Nepi, city of water, reveals some actual surprises for those who love wine.
It seems that the name Nepi derives from the word Nepa, which in ancient Etruscan meant ‘water’ and a powerful waterfall laps the fort of the Borgias and the Farnese. The waters pass through the ancient castle and throw themselves mysteriously into the bottom of the valley, lost from sight, but not the sound and roar of the water.
Nepi is older than Rome and is full of history: first the Gracchi, then came the Borgia and lastly the Farnese. The legend says that the Terme di Nepi belonged to the Gracchi family, sons of the famous Cornelia who called them her jewels (but in the end ‘every cockroach looks nice to his mama’) and in fact still today they are called Terme dei Gracchi.
Nepi is famous since then for its water and for the hazelnuts, but it also produces some wines that I think are interesting. We should discover the cabernet sauvignon and the sangiovese that Ronci, just outside the city walls, ‘interprets’ very well.
To enjoy it I prepare a nice ‘overcooked’ … or I prepare stew with a long time to cook and drink a Ronci. I do not know exactly what the order is, but that’s okay.
The cut of beef is called Picanha by Brazilians, the widely used cut for churrasco, but here it is the ‘codon of beef‘ (‘front of the chump’) a characteristic piece of meat often with a fat strip on one side. Some call it “tip of the undercoat” but it is recognized among many for its triangular shape and a weight greater than a kilo.
I’m going to choose a cut from Massimiliano the butcher in the Trionfale market in Rome. He knows me and I know that he chooses only the best of Italian meat and never disappoints me.
With a piece like this I make a stew with a very long time to cook: 5-6 hours of cooking must be added to those many hours of marinating. In fact, the 5 hours are only the end of an even longer process that starts with a marinade in Sangiovese with the addition of intense aromas from bay leaves, cloves and garlic.
I leave the marinade in the fridge for 24 hours, for the whole night, while I already enjoy the idea of the result of ‘overcooking’.
Do not confuse this stew with braised meat! That one in comparison is ‘fast food’ and it takes 4-5 hours to prepare it. For this stew it is different. Once you start the process you follow a sort of ritual that lasts more than a day.
When the meat is ready it floats in the marinade that is then thrown away. Do not try to reuse it or you will be disappointed.
The cooking in the casserole is long and at very low heat. Even lower than you think, like the heat from the flame of a match.
Oil is not needed, we use lard beaten with a knife and melted with onion and carrot. Brown everything well and add the remaining wine.
For the side, add the potatoes and chili capsicum fried in a pan. Always the side dishes should come from the Via Trionfale market.
Then the Ronci and if you really need water, use that of Nepi in the glass bottle.